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A right to Carer's Leave - supporting carers in employment

The Carer’s Leave Bill passes its Second Reading and Committee Stage but still needs your support!

On Friday 21 October 2022, the Carer’s Leave Bill, which would give carers in employment the right to take unpaid leave, passed through its first crucial step and secured Government support. On Wednesday 9 November 2022, the Bill went through more detailed examination and was successful at Committee Stage. We are now awaiting a time for the Report Stage.

However, we still need your support. Click here to sign up to join our campaign if you or your organisation would like to support the Bill.

About the Carer's Leave Bill and Carers UK's support

Millions of people in the UK juggle their unpaid caring responsibilities with paid employment. Balancing work and care can be a real struggle – with many carers saying they are tired, stressed and struggling to manage their own physical and mental health. They urgently need more support to ensure they can remain in work.

A right to Carer’s Leave is an issue that Carers UK has campaigned on for a long time. This has recently taken a firm step forward with the introduction of a Private Members’ Bill on Carer’s Leave, by Wendy Chamberlain MP, the Liberal Democrat MP for North East Fife. Carers UK is working closely with Wendy to try to make sure this Bill becomes law.

The Bill’s long title is: ‘Bill to make provision about unpaid leave for employees with caring responsibilities.’ Second Reading of the Bill was due to take place in the House of Commons on 9 September 2022, but was suspended due to the death of HM Queen Elizabeth II. The Bill successfully passed its Second Reading and secured vital Government support on the rescheduled date of Friday 21 October and was also successful at Committee Stage on Wednesday 9 November.

The Bill still needs your support

Every Private Member’s Bill faces more challenge in getting through Parliament in time to become law and support makes a real difference. Whether you are an employer, an employee, a carer, someone who provides services, your support makes a real difference.

We are delighted to have the support of leading employers such as Centrica, TSB, Phoenix as well as small employers such as Agenor Technology, industry bodies such as the Chartered Institute of Personnel Development, unions such as Unison, local government such as the Local Government Association, the Association of Directors of Social Services and Portsmouth City Council, national charities such as Age UK, MS Society and Stroke Association, medical bodies such the Academy of Royal Medical Colleges, and local and national carers organisations such as Caring Together, Sheffield Carers Centre, York Carers Centre, The Coalition of Carers in Scotland, Carers Trust, Gaddum, Wales Carers Alliance and many more.

Click here to sign up to join our campaign if you or your organisation would like to support the Bill.

The need for a right to Carer’s Leave

Prior to the coronavirus crisis, almost 5 million people were juggling paid work alongside caring unpaid – about 15% of the UK’s population. In 2020, the number of people in paid work who were also providing unpaid care increased to over 7 million. The stresses and strain of having to juggle paid work alongside unpaid care has led to hundreds of thousands of people having to leave the labour market entirely. On average, 600 people a day leave work to care – with over 500,000 people leaving work to provide unpaid care in the two years before the COVID-19 pandemic.

As our population ages, and changes to the way we work occur as a result of COVID-19, the issue of people juggling work and care is only going grow as a challenge. The UK already lags behind other countries when it comes to workplace rights for carers and it’s time our workplaces reflect the reality of our lives.

What would the Bill do?

The Bill has been published. It would help support unpaid carers to remain in work alongside their unpaid caring responsibilities – and, given the current cost of living crisis, there has never been a more important time to do so.

Carers UK’s evidence from employers, through Employers for Carers, is that a right to Carer’s Leave supports retention and recruitment, as well as the health and wellbeing of employees with caring responsibilities.

Although our ultimate goal remains up to 10 days' paid leave from work for all carers in employment, Carers UK believes that unpaid leave would deliver a number of different benefits. 

Passing this Bill could:

  • Give rights to at least 2.34 million employees who are carers, possibly more, depending on how the Bill is framed and what research we are looking at.
  • Mean that around 1.4 million employers to whom this applied would have to think about their employees with caring responsibilities, and for many, create carer-related policies for the first time.
  • Mean that more forward-looking employers would go further than the legislation required and introduce paid Carer’s Leave, to help them stay ahead with recruitment.

Will Wendy's Bill become law?

It’s much harder for Bills to become law if they come through a Private Member’s Bill route. Despite this, Carers UK has previously worked on three successful Private Members’ Bills, and Carer’s Leave is something the Government wants to legislate for. The Conservative Party made a manifesto commitment prior to the General Election in 2019 to legislate to introduce a weeks’ unpaid carer’s leave, and the Government also ran a consultation in 2020 on this issue.

Economic and social impact of Carer’s Leave

Our research shows that giving carers the right to take Carer’s Leave would:

  • Improve finances for carers in the short and longer term as they are more able to juggle work and care.
  • 37% of working carers said they needed unpaid Carer’s Leave, and a further 1 in 7 said if they didn’t get it, they would have to reduce working hours or give up work altogether.
  • Particularly support women, who are more likely to be juggling work and care, and who are much more likely to be in part-time work rather than full-time.
  • Bring increased productivity for employers, improving their employee retention rates and reducing their recruitment costs. Centrica have estimated that a combination of their policies to support carers in their workforce saved them £3.1 million per year.
  • Bring economic gains for the Treasury, through increased productivity, due to more carers being able to continue juggling work alongside their unpaid caring responsibilities, rather than having to leave the labour market. Our research in 2019 showed as many as 600 people a day were having to quit work because they were not getting the support they needed.

What has happened so far?

Carers UK was very disappointed that an Employment Bill was not announced in the Queen’s Speech this year (2022), meaning that Carer’s Leave was not brought forward by the Government. The Government had already pledged to introduce up to one week’s unpaid leave for unpaid carers within the workplace – both in the Conservative Party’s 2019 manifesto, and through the consultation Government ran in 2020.

Carers UK welcomed the Government’s response.

During and post-COVID-19, it became clear that giving employees with caring responsibilities the right to take Carer’s Leave is more important than ever for families, businesses, and the economy. At a time when the NHS and social care system are under extreme pressure, family support has been relied on more than ever.

Read our latest research

Contact us

For more information about Carer’s Leave, please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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